Economic indicators are starting to fall, indicating the U.S. may soon dip into a mild recession. Despite the numbers, many states are still seeing strong growth in economic development, with new groundbreakings and expansions across several industries. A surge of foreign investment, growth in the electric vehicle market and increasing exports offer new opportunities in the Northeast and Southeast.
#2 • FLORIDA
Jobs in Paradise
Florida remains the fastest-growing state in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Polk, Lee and Hillsborough counties collectively added more than 90,000 residents between July 2021 and July 2022. The influx of companies, low cost of living and quality of life are attracting many residents from the Northeast in search of “job opportunities and paradise,” said Craig Richard, president and CEO of Tampa Bay EDC. “There are a number of headquarters moving here. It’s not that difficult to persuade people to move to Tampa,” said Richard.
Federal data shows that Tampa Bay’s GDP grew by $16.5 billion between 2019 and 2021. Suzuki Motor of America, Opswat and AFC Transport recently moved headquarters and division operations to Tampa. In April 2023, global shipping and mailing company Pitney Bowes also announced plans to open a new Global Business Services Center in the city.
#3 • TENNESSEE
Big Growth in Batteries
In November 2022, the Volunteer State landed the largest foreign direct investment in state history. LG Chem announced plans to invest more than $3.2 billion to establish a new cathode manufacturing facility in Clarksville to support the electric vehicle battery value chain in the United States. The project will create more than 850 jobs.
“The new cathode manufacturing facility in Tennessee brings us one step closer to becoming the world’s best battery materials manufacturer and fulfilling our corporate vision to become a top global science company,” said LG Chem CEO Hak-Cheol Shin in a press release.
6K Energy also announced in April 2023 a $200 million battery material manufacturing plant in Jackson that will create 230 jobs. Duracell also announced a $25 million expansion of its manufacturing operations in Cleveland, Tennessee.
#4 • NORTH CAROLINA
Rising in the Ranks
North Carolina jumped another spot in the 2023 Chief Executive Best and Worst States for Business rankings to reach No. 4. A favorable business climate, competitive tax rates, an educated workforce and low costs combined with a high quality of life continue to attract pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. Over the past year, the state has seen an increase in companies in the clean energy space. In 2022, North Carolina welcomed one of the biggest economic development projects in state history when Vietnamese EV manufacturer VinFast announced a $4 billion manufacturing plant to create 7,500 jobs.
#7 • GEORGIA
Expanding Global Reach
2022 was another record year for Georgia, with the state’s total trade exceeding $196 billion across 221 countries. Eighty-five percent of the state’s $47 billion in exports came from small businesses with top contributors including aerospace, AgTech, logistics and manufacturing. “Growing global sales creates real opportunities for Georgia companies and strengthens local communities,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner of Trade Mary Waters.
A recent McKinsey report also noted that Georgia’s economy is thriving by many measures, including population, employment and GDP growth. The consultancy notes that the state can grow its GDP by up to $189 billion over the next decade by addressing workforce gaps, healthcare, education and transportation.
#8 • SOUTH CAROLINA
A Top 10 State for Business
South Carolina leapfrogged four spots to No. 8 in the 2023 Chief Executive Best and Worst States for Business rankings. Last year was a record-breaking year for the state regarding economic development, with more than $10.27 billion in capital investments and 14,083 new jobs.
Patten Seed Company, Normont Motion Technology, PDM US, Pallidus and Erchonia all announced headquarters relocations here in the past year. Cathode battery manufacturer Redwood Materials announced in December 2022 a $3.5 billion manufacturing facility and 1,500 new jobs in Berkeley County, the largest economic development project in the state’s history. Electric vehicle manufacturer Scout Motors Inc. also announced a $2 billion manufacturing plant in Blythewood that could create 4,000 permanent jobs
#12 • VIRGINIA
New Innovation in Old Dominion
Virginia remains a thriving hub for tech companies and organizations seeking to position their headquarters near Washington, D.C. STS Group, a leading vehicle parts supplier, announced in March 2023 a $32 million headquarters and 119 new jobs in the city of Salem. Engineering company Amentum Services, decided in February to relocate its headquarters to Fairfax County. And South Korean food tech company Armored Fresh announced in January it would expand its headquarters in Fairfax County. Amazon, which already has a significant presence in the state, also announced in January it will invest $35 billion by 2040 to establish new data centers and create 1,000 jobs across Virginia.
#16 • DELAWARE
Financial Advantages in the First State
While the First State may lack size and population, it offers businesses and workers many financial advantages. Last year, Wallet Hub noted that Delaware had the third-lowest tax burden in the United States and a lower cost of living than most East Coast states. Several companies have announced expansions and locations here in the past year. Early-stage biopharmaceutical company Uvax Bio is expanding and creating 63 jobs in the state. DuPont Semiconductor Technologies is embarking on a $50 million expansion in Wilmington in response to industry demand. And protective case manufacturer CP Cases recently selected Frankford as the new site of its U.S. operations.
# 18 • KENTUCKY
Bluegrass and Batteries
The Bluegrass State is emerging as a national leader in electric vehicle transformation, announcing more than $10.6 billion of investments and over 10,000 full-time jobs since 2020. CNBC recently noted that Kentucky, Georgia and Michigan are poised to dominate EV battery manufacturing by 2030. In December 2022, Ford Motor Company and SK On broke ground on the BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Kentucky. The $5.8 billion project, one of the largest in the state’s history, will create more than 5,000 new jobs and will start production in 2025. The facility will build advanced batteries for Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles that can produce more than 80-gigawatt hours annually.
#26 • LOUISIANA
Progress in the Pelican State
Louisiana topped more than $20 billion in capital investment in 2022, its fifth consecutive year of investment growth, according to the Louisiana Economic Development 2022 Annual Report. Ucore announced a $75 million acquisition in a rare earth minerals manufacturing facility in Alexandria. Placid Refining relocated its headquarters from Texas to Baton Rouge, and a joint venture by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Sustainable Fuels Group is exploring a $4.6 billion ammonia facility in St. Charles Parish.
New tech development also continues to grow across the state. Tech firm Excella announced a $21 million talent hub that will create 150 new jobs over the next five years. International game developer Big Fish Games also announced in March 2023 it would create 40 jobs at a talent hub in New Orleans.
#28 • NEW HAMPSHIRE
While the Granite State may be small, it’s making a big name on the global stage. New Hampshire’s exports surpassed $7 billion in 2022, a record, and $1 billion more than in 2021. A large portion of this was driven by electrical machinery, which is the state’s top export and grew 14 percent compared to 2021. Demand for electronic integrated circuits (ICs) around the world has increased demand from some traditional partners like Canada and Germany. State officials credit the success to the “pro-business, pro-worker agenda” and the hard work local companies have done securing new global markets during the disruption from the pandemic.
#30 • ALABAMA
Last year, Alabama landed $10.1 billion in economic development projects, a new annual record. This included more than $5.5 billion in direct foreign investment from corporate partners in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Canada. The projects announced in 2022 created more than 13,000 job commitments across the state. Automotive remains one of the primary economic drivers, with more than $1.2 billion in new capital investment announced last year and $8 billion over the previous five years. “With the global auto industry now investing heavily to pivot toward EV production, we expect to see even more growth in the sector,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
#31 • ARKANSAS
A Growing Future of Foreign Investment
Arkansas continues to build a solid future in manufacturing, as homegrown tech companies announce new expansions. Little Rock-based education technology company Apptegy announced more than 300 new jobs. Arkana Laboratories also announced a $30 million expansion and 74 new jobs in the next five years in Little Rock.
The state also continues to attract new foreign investment. Irish healthcare communications company RelateCare and Italian ammunition company Fiocchi recently announced major investments here. Anthony Acitelli, Fiocchi of America president and CEO, credited the decision to “strong ties with the state” and a “highly experienced and energetic labor force.”
#32 • MARYLAND
New Opportunities in the Old Line State
Maryland’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry is now one of the fastest growing in the state and increased 17 percent between March 2022 and March 2023, adding 6,500 jobs. Yet, manufacturing continues to grow, with new groundbreakings and expansions being announced monthly over the past year.
Hitachi Rail announced in October 2022 a $70 million manufacturing facility and 400 jobs. Greenland Technologies is opening a 54,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Baltimore County, and Home Chef is constructing a new manufacturing and distribution facility that will create 500 jobs in Baltimore. Governor Wes Moore is striving to create a more equitable economy that “leaves no one behind,” with higher minimum wages, expanded broadband access and new workforce training initiatives.
#33 • PENNSYLVANIA
The Key to Manufacturing
Pennsylvania currently has one of the nation’s top 10 largest state economies, with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state. Alma Group, West Pharmaceutical Services and Guardian Booth have announced projects here. Manufacturers MD Electronics, Re:Build Manufacturing and Prysmian Group North American also recently announced more than $400 million in investments to create more than 500 jobs.
The Keystone State is now trying to push more urban growth into its rural areas and coal-impacted communities. A new report by Brookings Institute noted that the state has many of the assets needed for innovation-driven development, including leading universities and a diverse talent pool to foster high-quality economic growth across all industries.
#35 • RHODE ISLAND
Winning with Local Opportunities
For a small state like Rhode Island, even the smallest businesses can have a significant economic impact. In late 2022, Governor Daniel McKee announced a $12.5 million grant program to assist small businesses impacted by the pandemic. It offers direct financial support of up to $2,500 or $5,000 for companies that meet specific criteria. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation also announced a partnership between its SupplyRI initiative and Mayflower Wind, the developer of an offshore wind energy project on the coast. It will help connect local suppliers to the needs of larger Rhode Island institutions.
#36 • MAINE
New Incentives in the Pine Tree State
Maine is a tiny state, but its global reputation is growing. International trade now supports more than one in five jobs, and the state’s exports continue to grow after reaching a record of more than $1.3 billion to 177 markets in 2021.
In April 2023, Gov. Janet Mills announced legislation to modernize and strengthen the state’s business incentive programs. The Dirigo Business Incentive uses a two-prong approach that encourages businesses to train more people and attracts and expands businesses in high-value sectors. Under the improved legislation, companies that pay to train three or more workers in an approved program could receive a $2,000 tax credit per worker and up to a 15 percent credit for capital investments.
#37 • WEST VIRGINIA
Mounting International Investment
The Mountain State is continually making more inroads onto the global stage, growing its exports and attracting more international investments. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s International Office now offers export assistance and is embarking on international business development missions to countries like Korea, Japan and Taiwan. “International investment is a significant and growing sector of our economy,” said Gov. Justice in a press release. “International companies from 33 countries have invested billions in West Virginia, and those companies employ 30,000 West Virginians.”
German packaging manufacturer Papier-Mettler announced in June 2022 a $48 million investment and 100 new jobs in Moorefield. Italian manufacturer Fanti USA also recently renovated its production facility in Weirton to serve the U.S. market with metal packaging containers.
#38 • MISSISSIPPI
Steel, Manufacturing and Magnolias
In late 2022, the Magnolia State finalized the largest economic deal in its history. Steel producer Steel Dynamics inked an agreement to invest $2.5 billion in an expansion in Columbus to add two new facilities and more than 1,000 jobs. This comes on the heels of several notable announcements by companies like Shloop, Homestead Furniture and Menasha Packaging.
The aerospace industry continues to grow as well. Rocket Lab announced in September 2022 it would locate an engine testing facility at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. “When it comes to the aerospace industry, it’s all systems go in Mississippi. That’s because our state offers a prime location for innovative research, well-trained workers, and innovative technology development,” said Gov. Tate Reeves in a press release.
#39 • VERMONT
Upbeat in the Green Mountain State
A recent survey by Vermont Business Magazine found local businesses were more upbeat about the state of the economy than national respondents. Just over half expect sales to increase in 2023, while 45 percent expect to increase spending, and 41 percent expect to increase staff.
Gov. Phil Scott and the Department of Economic Development also announced in May 2023 a new partnership to provide technical assistance and development services to Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC) business owners and professionals. Alongside the Vermont Professionals of Color Network, the program will offer outreach, support, training, technical assistance, networking and resource navigation for BIPOC business owners and workers.
#42 • CONNECTICUT
Living Large in Life Sciences
Connecticut’s life sciences and biotech industries continue to blossom, fueled by talent and the presence of two major research universities. In May 2022, Nuritas announced it would locate its North American headquarters in Connecticut, near Yale University. German biomedical research institute BioMex announced in January a partnership with AbbVie and the opening of a facility in New Haven. Minnesota-based Ryan Companies and Henrich Partners LLC of Stamford are also planning HealthTech Park in Branford, a 500,000-square-foot lab space and R&D facility. “The life sciences corridor is growing organically, and we’re seeing lots of inbound interest from companies that want to be a part of the ecosystem,” says Peter Denious, CEO of AdvanceCT.
#44 • MASSACHUSETTS
A Tech Mecca
Like many states, the Bay State saw economic indicators start to fall in Q1 2022. However, Massachusetts continues to land new groundbreakings and expansions across several sectors. Swiss technology company Nexthink announced plans to double its U.S. presence with a new headquarters in Boston. Additionally, Israeli diagnostics firm MeMed is embarking on a $93 million expansion at its local headquarters in Boston.
As of May 2022, Gov. Charlie Baker urged the approval of a $3.5 billion economic development plan that would use American Rescue Plan Act funds and borrowing to fund hundreds of shovel-ready projects to help Massachusetts cities attract new investments.
#47 • NEW JERSEY
A Growing Global Reputation
Last year, Choose New Jersey assisted in deals with 43 companies relocating or expanding in the state, totaling 4,700 jobs and $3 billion in capital investments. The current strategy has strengthened global connections and highlighted the state as a premier business destination for foreign audiences by welcoming trade delegations from more than a dozen countries. New Jersey is also expanding its relationship with Israeli companies in cybersecurity, aerospace, food innovation and life sciences. Since 2003, Israeli investment in the state has totaled more than $550 million and created more than 1,900 jobs. New Jersey also became the first state to open an economic development office in Ireland.
#49 • NEW YORK
The Empire State Economy
In an address in early January 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams noted slowing economic growth due to record-high office vacancy rates, the migrant crisis and rising healthcare costs. Despite this, employment has grown by 4.8 percent, and companies continue to announce new projects. Schrödinger is expanding its headquarters in Manhattan, and Deerfield is investing in a New York location that will feature a $50 million pilot “Lab of the Future,” where the firm plans to explore using AI to make preclinical drug discovery faster.
The massive Micron investment announced last year in Central New York continues to move ahead. The semiconductor technology company announced in October 2022 it will invest up to $100 billion over the next 20 years and create up to 50,000 direct and indirect jobs at a megafab city in Clay.